Topeka A proposal to increase state spending on public schools' bilingual education programs by 25 percent failed to receive the endorsement Wednesday of the Kansas State Board of Education.
The decision came as the board decided what items to include in its budget proposal for the state's 2005 fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2004. The vote on bilingual education was 5-4, but six votes from the 10-member board were required for passage.
The proposal would have increased spending on bilingual education by $2.1 million, to $11.5 million. The board will submit its budget proposals to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who is to submit her spending plan for fiscal 2005 to the Legislature next year.
Leading opposition to additional bilingual education spending was board member Connie Morris, R-St. Francis, who said the programs are unfair to English-speaking students who do not have the opportunity to learn another language.
"Bilingual education is unfair to all kids -- it just is," she said. "Until every kid has the opportunity for taxpayer-paid bilingual education, then none should."
Morris said Wednesday she would favor allowing non-English speakers to take a full-immersion English program -- but only for a year at taxpayers' expense.
But board member Bill Wagnon, D-Topeka, said the state should not attempt to force people to speak only English. He said students learning English as a second language should be encouraged to remain multilingual because, "it reflects the current and growing diversity of Kansas."